The Hawaii Department of Agriculture's Plant Quarantine Program began over a hundred years ago when, in 1888, King David Kalakaua decreed that in order to protect the coffee industry in Hawaii, new coffee plants would not be allowed into the islands. Two years later, laws were enacted to prevent the introduction of injurious insect pests and plant diseases. In 1905, after 14 snakes were seized, the responsibility of preventing detrimental non-domestic animals from coming into the islands was added to the program in order to protect Hawaii's people and the environment.
Today, Plant Quarantine is the State's "First Line of Defense" in keeping pests out of the islands. Behind the scenes, we inspect everything from single-celled organisms used for research to exotic animals in the zoo; from flowers, fruits, and vegetables in the market to animal feed at the farm; from the clams and oysters in the restaurant to birds and fishes in the pet shop. All these things are checked at the harbor or airport to make sure they're safe for all of us.